Can religion be a positive force for social change?

Can religion be a positive force for social change?Faith is neither a poison pill nor a silver bullet, but understanding its significance is crucial.


In the Lindi region of southern Tanzania, for example—where I worked as a research analyst for the Aga Khan Foundation last year—a group of Muslim women have gathered every week for the past six years to perform the simple act of saving together, taking loans from each other with interest and sharing in the profits. The money they received helped them to buy food during the lean season before the harvest, set up small businesses, renovate their houses, and send their children to school. They also have a social fund to which each member contributes so that they can get an interest-free grant to cover emergency medical and funeral expenses.

The women call their savings group “Tuyagantane,” which is Makonde for “helping each other.” “Islam above all teaches compassion to all humans,” one of the group members told me. “To treat each human being like she is like yourself. If your neighbor is hungry, you have an obligation to support her.” The women say that the group encourages them to solve common problems together.

Read at the source: Manini Sheker | 5 July 2016 | openDemocracy

Manini Sheker is a PhD candidate in social anthropology at the University of Sussex. She holds degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Toronto and in 2011 was a finalist in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition. Manini was also awarded the Ngo Human Welfare Prize by Oxford University in 2013. Follow her on twitter @ManiniSheker

Author: ismailimail

Civil society media.   Find Ismailimail blog on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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